GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
Kitty Coles lives in Surrey with her husband and works as a senior adviser for a charity supporting disabled people.
Her poems have been widely published in magazines and anthologies.
She is one of the two winners of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2016 and Seal Wife is her first pamphlet.
138 x 216mm
£6.00 + P&P UK
PUB: SEPTEMBER 2017
Seal Wife uses stories and characters taken from folktales, fairy tales and myths to explore themes of loss, longing and transformation.
‘Kitty Coles submerges herself in the world of myth, fairy tale and legend to meld together personal, natural and supernatural worlds. Teeming with dramatic imagery, these poems reflect a remarkable, and at times, macabre imagination. An exciting first collection that will, like the persona in ‘The Doe-Girl’, ‘leave tracks, like tidy hearts, behind.’
'This is a confident poetry, dextrous in its unforced appropriation of allegorical and mythic tropes for the purposes of finding contemporary resonance in material which, simultaneously, works hard to feel ancient and beyond the everyday. Not unlike Ian Duhig’s 'The Lammas Hireling', 'Seal Wife' achieves a powerful lift-off into the strange, the occult and the preternatural. Never less than convincing, this is an impressive debut highly worthy of our attention.'
Winner of the
Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2016
She had always been timid,
wide-eyed, easily startled
by sudden noises,
thin-legged, fond of woodland,
prone to running.
One day, she sensed a pressure
in the skull. Antlers
emerged, puny at first,
Her ears lengthened
and her eyes, once blue,
turned black all over,
like ink spreading through water.
Now, we glimpse her sometimes,
moving between tree-trunks,
wary, at a distance.
Her hooves leave tracks,
like tidy hearts, behind.
She vanishes, silent,
dapples of light.
We don't think she knows us
On The Capturing Of Ghosts
Like wasps, you lure them with something appetising,
the brine of tears, the metallic
tang of blood. Bait the jar and wait
for the liminal times – the dusk,
the dawn – when the veil is stretched to its thinnest
and death and life are porous,
their boundaries seeping.
Ghosts will congregate at crossroads, sweep
over the valleys, as visible
as mist, with their damp, their chilling.
Select the one you want. You will know
him by instinct, the feel of his breath
on your neck, his remembered odour.
(And of course you must choose
the bait of your jar to please him).
Then call him by name, the syllables
that still shape him, and invite him to taste:
ghosts are grateful for invitations.
He will make himself small, curling round
on himself like a hedgehog, and slip into
the jar and lick at the nourishment in there.
His attention held, take the lid and screw it tight.
Then bury the jar in earth, as if it were bone, and forget
his name. Let the weight slip from your shoulders.
The weather turns.
A wind from the north has flown in,
with its violent curse,
and it raises the waves
till I cannot shut out their yowling.
The old scars itch on my flank,
The hairs on my spine rise up
in the chill that presses
itself under the door,
an insinuating ghost.
The cat has wound herself
to an endless running
from one end of the house to the other,
poor bristling devil.
The grass is aching with frost.
Birds fall, small toys,
from the trees in their deaths.
The cold is murderous.
In the churchyard, the drowned
walk at noon as if it were night.
They return to old beds,
slip in by their frozen wives.
And I am numbing myself
with my baking, my stitching, by washing
the floors till the stone begins to thin.
I hide my face from the mirror:
its enquiry threatens.
If I could forget, the water could not claim me.
The Huntsman's Wife
In the dark of the year, I find you waiting always
at the stable door, your black coat on, your hat
in your hand as you scuff the muddy straw.
Your old horse is accustomed to your habits.
He has woken himself and his breath damps both our faces.
Good wife, I brush and comb him like a child.
Sparks fly from him. My thick boots stamp them down.
I pick his hooves for grits and nubs of sky.
I fetch the saddle, cool beneath my hand.
I bridle him. You nod to me and mount.
Out in the yard, the air is stiff with stars.
You pull me down a handful. They melt like ice
between our palms and slither from my fingers.
I wait until the clouds have rolled between us.
I wait all night to see the soul you'll bring me.
He will not go quietly, this old red autumn.
The sunsets burn like flares at the horizon.
The air is weighted with the stink of pyres.
Blight makes the leaves surrender, dry and fall.
The river has unseamed the banks and risen
across the fields, made moats around the trees.
Above the mountain, the clouds coagulate.
They turn themselves to blackness, choke the stars.
And we, revolving in our draughty heaven,
dwindle like wasps when winter thins their stores.
I will see you again on the other side of the water.
Our sustenance will be the morning dew.